Pediatric Surgery at Winchester Hospital
Having a child undergo surgery is an anxious time for any family. At Winchester Hospital, we do our best to relieve your anxiety. Our pediatric surgeons and the rest of our care team are committed to providing high-quality and personalized care when you entrust your child to us.
Tours Before Surgery
We offer tours for children who will have surgery at Winchester Hospital. This visit helps them become familiar with our hospital and reduce their fears.
To arrange a tour for your child at our ambulatory surgery center located at 620 Washington St. in Winchester, please call Nurse Manager Ann Mildram at 781-756-2022.
For tours of the main operating room at 41 Highland Ave. in Winchester, please call Nurse Manager Lisa Cipriano at 781-756-7168.
What To Expect
Knowing what to expect before your child has surgery can ease your worries and fears of the unknown. Read on for details.
Preparing Your Child for Surgery
Here are some tips and things to keep in mind if your child needs surgery:
- Preparation doesn’t prevent your child from being afraid, but it will give them a sense of what to expect.
- Speak with your child about the surgery. For each year of age, one day of preparation is appropriate. For example, talk to your two-year-old two days before their surgery, or begin talking to your seven-year-old one week prior.
- When discussing surgery, be honest in a way that is appropriate for your child’s age. Consider your child’s personality and past medical experiences.
- Avoid negative words like “painful” or “scary” when describing the experience. Everyone feels pain and emotions differently. Instead, you could say, “It might feel like a pinch or a poke.” Avoid using the term “put to sleep,” as your child might associate this phrase with putting a pet “to sleep.” Instead, use the term “fall asleep” or “take a nap.”
- Describe the experience to young children in sensory terms — what the child may smell, hear or touch.
- Always encourage your child to discuss their feelings and ask you or their care team questions.
- If appropriate, practice behaviors that your child could use at the hospital if they become anxious. This may include:
- Blowing bubbles
- Deep breathing
- Distraction toys
- Squeezing objects or your hand
- If your child is interested, practice hospital experiences with dolls and toy medical kits. Discuss any concerns that your child raises.
- Use books, videos and the hospital’s pre-operative tour to prepare your child. However, always let your child know that their hospital stay could differ in some ways from what the books or videos show.
On the Day of Surgery
Here’s what to expect on the day of your child’s procedure:
- Winchester Hospital provides hospital clothing and slippers for your child to change into during the surgery. Patients staying overnight may wear their own clothing, if desired.
- As a comfort measure, bring your child’s favorite toy, book or stuffed animal.
- Try not to bring siblings to the hospital on the day of the surgery until your child has returned to the inpatient floor and is feeling better.
- Don’t eat or drink around your fasting child.
In the Operating Room
Here are some details on what your child can expect in the operating room:
- Your child may walk or ride a stretcher to the operating room.
- If the anesthesiologist and surgeon agree, you may accompany your child into the operating room. The nurse or doctor will help you put on a hat to cover all your hair, a paper coat to cover your clothing, and a mask to cover your mouth and nose.
- When you are in the operating room, the nurse will show you where to stand so that you don't touch any sterile supplies. After your child is settled on the bed in the operating room, the nurse will help you sit at your child's side.
- The anesthesiologist will cover your child's mouth and nose with a soft, clear plastic mask. Small tubes connect the mask to the anesthetic gas that will anesthetize your child for their surgery. While this mask is in place, you should speak softly and soothingly to your child. Singing a lullaby or telling a favorite simple story may help your child relax.
Effects of Anesthesia
While going to sleep under anesthesia, your child may behave in a variety of ways — all of which are normal. These may include:
- Eyes rolling or unfocused
- Struggling to stay awake
- Uncontrollable giggling
Some children go to sleep without doing anything. All these behaviors are possible and considered normal.
Each person reacts differently to the effects of anesthesia. It’s good to know how your child may react:
- It is likely that your child won’t remember any of their experience in the operating room. It is much more difficult for you as the parent to watch than it is for the child to drift off to sleep.
- Remember that it is important to touch your child while they go to sleep. You can gently stroke your child’s arm or touch their hair. After a while, they won't be able to see you but will feel your touch.
- The anesthesiologist will tell you when your child has fallen asleep. You may be allowed to give your child a quick kiss before you leave. The nurse will escort you out of the operating room and direct you to a waiting room.
- It is important that you leave your child’s side when the care team asks you to leave. This can happen at any time if the anesthesiologist thinks that it is no longer appropriate for you to be in the operating room. Your child’s safety is our primary concern.
The hospital allows visitors only to bring in mylar (not latex) balloons.
Remember that your child’s experience doesn’t end with their hospital stay. Talk with them and play out the hospital situation repeatedly, in order to deal with any lingering concerns.